Sex Toys 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Whether you’re a first time buyer or veteran consider your options when buying a sex toy

PHOTO: FLICKR USER KRISTINA (CC BY-NC 2.0)

PHOTO: FLICKR USER KRISTINA (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Shopping for sex toys can be both an exciting and intimidating experience. I’ve spent the past year and a half working at a sex store where I’ve had the pleasure of helping customers with a diversity of shopping needs. From 20-somethings with a glisten in their eyes looking to purchase their first toy, to “veterans” looking for the newest and greatest thing; I’ve helped them all. With walls and cases stacked with toys of all colours, shapes and sizes, walking into a sex store can be daunting. Having an idea of what you’re looking for before stepping foot into a store can help ease some buyer’s stress. Here are some simple things to consider:

What’s your budget? If you’re a first time buyer, looking at prices can be intimidating. Though expensive, “luxury” toys might last longer and boast many great features (some are listed below). Buying a cheaper toy can work as a good starting point for exploration.

What’s the “target”? From internal stimulation (vaginal, front hole, anal, etc.) to external stimulation (clitoral, outer anus, penile, etc.), there are many areas to explore. There are even toys specific to stimulation of the (elusive to some) g-spot and prostate. Many toys also boast the ability to target multiple areas, such as “rabbit-style” vibrators for internal and external stimulation.

What are some details or features that you’re looking for? Consider if you’re looking for something that vibrates or not. As with any other type of technology, sex toys are constantly being improved and updated. If you’re looking for something rechargeable, waterproof, or with a decent warranty, you might be looking at a bit of a higher price range.

Do you know what material you’d prefer? What your sex toy is made out of makes a huge difference. Some popular options are:

  1. Silicone is soft, hypoallergenic, and non-porous It’s also super easy to clean and can be sterilized. Though more expensive than its soft material counterparts; silicone has a longer life when taken care of correctly and is well worth the investment.
  2. Rubber and jelly rubber is soft and a cheaper option than silicone. They can contain toxins (such as phthalates), are porous, and cannot be sterilized. If you choose these materials it is recommended to use a condom on the toy if planning on sharing it with a partner
  3. Plastic is hard, cheap, and straight to the point. Good quality plastic toys can be easily cleaned sterilized.
  4. Glass and metal are popular materials when experimenting with temperature play (using hot or cold stimulants to incite a sensual reaction or arousal), as they can be thrown in the refrigerator to be cooled down or placed under warm or hot water to heat up and take longer to adjust to the body’s temperature. They’re hard, heavy, and easy to clean and sterilize. Though they tend to be pricey they can have a long life if handled correctly.

If you don’t know, ask! No question is a bad question. Wander into your local sex store and talk to an employee, we’re there to help you. You can also find a reputable toy review website.

Want to learn more? Come to QUEERING THE WATERFRONT: The Wonderful World of Sex Toys on Thurs. Feb. 26 from noon-1 p.m. at Waterfront campus, room 225. Learn about the dos and don’ts when starting your search for the perfect “companion.” An interactive (not in “that” way) workshop for LGBTQ students.

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Sex Toys 101: A Beginner’s Guide